Geekwif
“When anybody asks, 'What are you writing about now?' if I try to reply, the book-in-the-works sounds so idiotic to me that I think, 'Why am I trying to write that puerile junk?' So now I give up; if I could talk about it, I wouldn't have to write it."
- Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet

 

Adventures in Waterlessness

Thursday, December 13, 2007


So, when you move into a new house in the winter, what are the two major systems that you really want to work? Heat is nice to have, right? And we finally have heat after the drama of the past month (which I recounted yesterday).

The other thing you want working, no matter the time of year? Water. Yeah, water is good.

Before moving to our new home in the country, I thought having well water was a nifty idea because you wouldn’t have a monthly water bill. Yes, you pay for the well up front, but eventually you use enough water to make up for it and it’s all free water from then on, right?

Oh, I could not have been more wrong. Our water saga begins with the digging of the well, for which I will direct you to our Dome Geeks blog. Just go to the linked page and search (control+F on a PC or command+F on a Mac) for the word “hydrofrac”.

By the way, the hydrofrac worked, but it cost us oodles of cash. As a matter of fact, it cost 18 oodles...if an oodle equals $1000. That’s a lot of oodles.

But, we have water. 1/2 gallon per minute, which, while significantly slower than city water, is plenty of water for a two people. Between the pressure tank, the water heater, and the well reservoir, we should have about 400 gallons of water waiting for us at any given time. And yet we seemed to keep running out of water.

Okay, let me back up a bit. The first few days we were here painting, as I mentioned yesterday, we were without water because they were still working on hooking it up. So we brought a case of bottled water for drinking, washing hands, and brushing teeth. We were going into town a lot for food and trips to Menards so we just used the bathrooms there anytime we drove in.

The mornings were the worst part those first few days. The first morning I got up at 5 a.m. and drove into town to the Holiday where I bought a couple of 20 oz. Cokes so I wouldn’t feel guilty for using the restroom. The Geek just used the biffy they had on-site for the construction crew. I wasn’t quite so brave...at first...but after the first 2 days of driving into town every time my bladder demanded it, I finally gave in. With the Geek standing guard, I used the biffy.

That’s all I’ll say about that.

Well, that and this: Did you know that there is cold air in there? Seriously, there’s a breeze. Really cold air. And THAT is all I’ll say about that.

By the official moving day, we had running water. And shortly thereafter we ran out. One of us turned on a faucet, and it just stopped.

Great.

So we called the builder. He came out and showed us how to reset the pressure tank which supposedly keeps it from trying to pump a dry well which can wreck the pump.

And we reset it...and reset it...and reset it. And every time we let it sit for hours without turning on water so that it could refill. And every time we wondered how in the world we were using 400 gallons of water in a relatively short period of time. And every time we tried to find ways to use less and less water.

Keep showers as short as possible.

Only one load of laundry or one dishwasher load every day, but never one of each.

Don’t let the water run for even a a few seconds if you’re not using it.

Finally, I called the appliance company and found out how much water our washing machine and dishwasher used per load. The washing machine uses anywhere from 10 to 19 gallons depending on the load, and the dishwasher uses 10-12 gallons.

So we added that to the water we used for showers, toilet flushes, and hand washing. There was no way we were using 400 gallons in a day, and yet still we kept running out of water. We contacted the builder, who spoke with the well guy, who said that based on what we told him it seemed the system was working normally.

And then the Geek made a startling discovery. After resetting the pressure tank one day, rather than not touching any faucet or water-using appliance for several hours, he (gasp!) turned on a faucet! And guess what? There was water! Not just a trickle, but real water, and it didn’t run out immediately.

But eventually it stopped again and we reset it again and then it worked again. It seemed we weren’t running out of water. The pressure just kept dropping for no apparent reason.

Eventually it got to the point where we were resetting it every...single...day. It’s not a huge stinking deal to run to the basement and reset the switch (except that it sparks and you have to be really careful not to get a nasty shock, which we each found out WILL happen at least once before you learn the trick), but it’s annoying (even without the shock). We have known plenty of people who have well water who have never had to reset their pressure tank even once. So why did we? Especially when we weren’t running out of water?

So back to the builder we went, and the well guy called us back. Amazingly enough, he was able to come out on the same day as the furnace guy to check it out. He went downstairs with the Geek and took one look at the pressure tank gauge and said, “Oh, well here’s your problem.” He took out a wrench and started cranking on a pipe and the gauge moved from the 40 mark (which we thought was normal because that's where it had been hovering since we moved in – except for when it was at 0) up to the 60+ mark.

And we haven’t had to reset that tank since.

The moral of the story is this:

It is GOOD THING to have water and heat! Woo hoo!!!

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